Victoria young gun Will Pucovski risks cutting short his promising career unless he learns how to better handle short bowling.
That's the assessment of Bushrangers general manager Shaun Graf after Pucovski copped yet another blow to the head while batting in the Sheffield Shield on Sunday.
The 20-year-old dropped to his knees after ducking into a shortish ball from NSW paceman Sean Abbott and being hit on the side of his helmet at Junction Oval.
It was a distressing sight but particularly for the luckless Abbott, coming more than three years after he bowled the ball that struck Phillip Hughes on the neck and led to his death.
Abbott and others rushed to assist Pucovski, who was able to walk from the field with the help of medical staff and was later substituted out of the match under new rules for concussion injuries.
Pucovski returned to Junction Oval on Monday to watch from the sidelines after pulling up well from his seventh concussion in the past five years.
"It was unfortunate but that's cricket," Pucovski said in a brief statement.
"I'm under the supervision of Cricket Victoria's medical team and we'll look at my return to play options once I have fully recovered."
Pucovski missed three months of cricket after being struck in the head in his first-class debut last summer.
He was also hit in the helmet during the domestic one-day tournament and again while batting for Victoria in the Futures League a month later.
"He spent a couple of hours in a very dark room. He had a headache obviously and he was quite rattled but he really recovered quite quickly," Graf told RSN radio on Monday.
"We've got to just have a wider conversation maybe somewhere down the track as to his general health leading into the future."
Pucovski's latest setback is particularly concerning given the growing evidence that repeat head knocks can have a cumulative effect on victims, increasing the likelihood they will suffer further concussions.
Some of his head injuries, including being slung in a tackle during a junior football game, hitting his head on a door at home and being struck by a ball while diving in the field, were unavoidable.
But Graf said bad luck hadn't been the only factor, suggesting Pucovski needed to improve his technique against the short ball.
"It's something we've got to talk about," Graf said.
"He tried to avoid it and it's come straight at him ... he took his eyes off the ball slightly and it just crunched into his helmet.
"With the modern player, they tend to take their eyes off the ball a lot more whereas when we had no helmets, you had to really watch the ball."
Australian Associated Press